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Jed Miller

Clint Johnson
ENG 1010
July 12, 2016
Rhetorical Analysis: A More Perfect Union final draft
A More Perfect Union a speech given by Senator Barrack Obama, was in
response to the controversy surrounding his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Mr.
Wright had made some shocking public statements claiming that the attacks on
September 11, 2001, were brought on by the actions of the American government
during certain military campaigns. His comments were quoted from Malcom X
stating that the Americans chickens have come home to roost. Meaning that the
American militarys involvement in the middle-east had forced the radical Muslims
to retaliate. This is not a viewpoint senator Obama wanted attached to his name
going into the 2008 presidential election primaries. This speech was intended to
establish senator Obamas viewpoint and distance himself from his former pastor.
His speech, however was not well received, because the controversy resurfaced and
he had to readdress his political stance in a second, more definitive speech.
In his speech, Senator Obama establishes his long-standing relationship with
reverend Wright by defining Jeremiahs character. As a former U.S. Marine born in
the 1940s and raised in the 50s-60s, he was no stranger to racial prejudiced and,
as such, may hold some anger towards the white community. He also states that
that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is
a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me
about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor.
He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured
at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over
thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on
Earth - by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care
services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering
from HIV/AIDS. Senator Obama goes on to state that the views of the pastor are
not his own and his mission for political office is to bridge the racial gap in America
and establish equal healthcare and job opportunities for all American citizens.
The Author, Senator Barrack Obama, is a senator who is campaigning for the
democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential election, running on a platform of
affordable healthcare and equal continuing education opportunities. His intended
audience was the white middle-aged American Christians, with whom were shocked
and offended by reverend Wrights controversial sermon. The purpose was to reclaim
his political stand point and distance his views from those of the reverend, and
trying to establish credibility with his own political views. He was also trying to
explain his upbringing to show his racial non-bias.
Senator Obama uses pathos very well throughout his speech. He uses
patriotism to confirm his political standing with his white supporters. In his opening
statement "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union. Two hundred and
twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men
gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment

in democracy. By opening his statement in this way he appeals to the patriot in his
targeted audience. He then goes on to say The document they produced was
eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original
sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a
stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least
twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations. This
statement is a call to action of the American People to stay with him through his
campaign to finish the founding fathers work. Also, he explains his background and
states his wife comes from the blood of slaves and slave-owners and that has
seared into his genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its
parts, that out of many, we are truly one. These are all very strong statements
that persuade his white followers that he isnt bitter or unpatriotic and that he is still
a viable candidate.
Senator Obama used pathos in the form of guilt, to fill in the gaps, where the
patriotism of his white followers fell short or just wasnt enough to bring them back
to his side. Surely where patriotism lacks, the fear of being deemed a racist will
sway white followers. In the beginning of his speech he states The document they
produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this
nation's original sin of slavery, while describing the constitution. He then goes on
to say And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from
bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and
obligations as citizens of the United States. These statements alone captivate the
attention of his intended audience by making them feel slightly responsible for the
decisions made over 200 years ago.
Ethos was the other Rhetorical appeal used in Obamas speech. He spent a
great deal of focus on trying to distance himself from the comments made by his
former pastor with the statement we've heard my former pastor use incendiary
language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial
divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation;
that rightly offend white and black alike. As a contender for the democratic
nomination for president, Senator Obama does not want to be affiliated with such
unpatriotic statements. He wanted to dismiss the statements while still supporting
the reverends character. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me.
He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not
once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in
derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but
courtesy and respect in saying so, he effectively defends the reverends morals and
In Conclusion, senator Obama was effective a distancing himself from the
negative comments made by reverend Jeremiah Wright by using ethos to define the
reverends, and his own, character. However, his speech was not enough to bury the
controversy and senator Obama was forced to readdress the situation and take a
firmer stance in the following weeks. Obama used pathos well by playing off the
guilt of his audience to try to convey his message against racial prejudice and unity
as a Nation. He did establish himself as a viable democratic candidate by sharing
his background and family history with the American people, and explaining his

vision for equality in the workforce and affordable healthcare for every American